Small claims court is a special division court that is used to settle disputes quickly, inexpensively, and without the need for a lawyer. In most jurisdictions, small claims courts restrict their dockets to only include claims of less than $10,000. Additionally, claims can only be made for money. This means that the judge can only make a monetary judgement, and . There cannot be other orders such as “returning” something or forcing someone to do something.
The parties who are suing or being sued will represent themselves in court. This type of hearing is referred to as a pro se or “in proper person.” Attorneys are allowed in a small claims court proceeding. However, if a person wins, they cannot collect court fees. So if you decide to hire an attorney, you will have to pay out of pocket for fees. This rarely happens because small claims courts are comparably informal and more laid back than larger-scale criminal or civil courts.
The first point to remember when submitting a small claims case is that these smaller-scale courts have different rules and procedures than regular courts. If you need information about how small claims courts work in your jurisdiction, you should use the Internet or contact local courthouses.
All this said, there are a number of points that you should consider before taking the steps necessary to sue someone in small claims court. While this type of court may be advantageous in some ways, it is not always the best solution to solve your problem. You will need to a bit of planning and research before you make that move. And by all means, answer the following questions:
Do you have a good case?
Are you willing to invest the time and energy?
Is your claim less than $10,000?
Do you just want money or something else?
Have you attempted to settle the claim?
Has the statute of limitations run out?
Can you find the person or company you wish to sue?
Can you prove your case?
Can you collect if you win your case?
There are some alternatives to small claims court such as a free Neighborhood Justice Center mediation (NJC). Also, you can sign up for small claims court classes to give you a better overview of the process. Lastly, be sure to study the small claims process so you don’t end up wasting your time with a case you cannot win.
Everyone gets pulled over eventually. Sometimes it’s because of a perceived violation, other times it’s because the officer noticed something rote about the car and needs to either confirm your safety or inform you of an unsafe situation (for example, if you have a broken head- or tail light).
The most important thing to remind yourself is that whatever you have been pulled over for, it likely isn’t criminal. You are not likely to be arrested or taken to jail – so relax, stay calm, and follow this simple list of dos and don’ts.
- Pull over as quickly as possible when the lights come on – showing compliance from the start will put the officer more at ease.
- Put the car in park and turn off the radio. Make sure your car is as far off the road as possible and set your hazards to blink.
- Wait patiently for the officer to approach the vehicle. Keep your hands on the steering wheel. Reach slowly for paperwork when it is requested.
- Open the window just enough to communicate easily and exchange paperwork. Address the officer with respect at all times. You want this interaction to be as routine and unmemorable as possible.
- Say as little as possible during the stop. If the situation does get messy, you want to be able to argue your case in court, and not at the scene.
- Don’t volunteer information or directly answer any question that can be construed as an admission of guilt. That includes saying, “I’m sorry,” or answering in the affirmative if asked, “Do you know why I pulled you over?” Ask the officer to explain the factors that led to the stop, and do not deny, affirm, or defend the actions he or she alleges.
- Don’t get hostile or defensive.
- Try not to cry or get emotional. Being calm and assertive will carry you through the stressful situation faster than tears will.
- Don’t be intimidated into silence, but don’t avoid reasonable questions if you can help it. If you are skirting questions, the officer is likely to get more stern. Stand your ground, but maintain your composure. Remember, you have the right to remain silent. Use it when you feel that you should.
- Don’t use your phone or turn the radio back on while you wait. If you are issued a citation, take it without complaint; you can always appeal it in court.
If you follow these simple guidelines, you are likely to not only get through the stop with a minimum of difficulty, you are also very likely to win your case in court or, at a minimum, have the charges reduced so they don’t affect your driving record.
About Henry Vinson
Henry Vinson is a 10,000 hour commercial pilot with Single-Engine and Multi-Engine Airplane; Rotorcraft-Helicopter; Instrument-Airplane; Flight Instructor Airplane & Flight Instructor Helicopter ratings. Henry Vinson holds a Master of Science in Integrated Marketing Communications from West Virginia University, as well as a Bachelor of Science in Mortuary Science from Cincinnati College of Mortuary Science. He is a member of the Public Relations Society of America, Airplane Owner and Pilot Association, American Marketing Association, American Communications Association, and Experimental Aircraft Association.
Henry Vinson was born in 1960 in South Williamson, Kentucky. He graduated from Williamson High School in 1979, and, after attending South West Virginia Community College, he enrolled in the Cincinnati College of Mortuary Science. In 1982, he was appointed the Coroner for Mingo County, West Virginia.
Four years later, he became a funeral director for W. W. Chambers Funeral Homein Washington, DC. After his stint at W. W. Chambers Funeral Home, he owned and operated the largest gay escort service ever uncovered in Washington, DC at the age of 26.
In 2007, Mr. Vinson received a Masters in Integrated Marketing Communications from West Virginia University, and today he is a successful entrepreneur who lives in Cincinnati, Ohio.
Following a successful career as a marketing and advertising consultant, Henry Vinson opted to return to school in 2014 to pursue a law degree. Vinson is currently enrolled in the Juris Doctor Program at William Howard Taft University, America’s oldest nationally accredited distance learning law school.